#SISustainability: New youth group promoting sustainability emerges on S.I.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — After growing up constantly hearing about climate change and its global impacts, several young Staten Islanders came together to form a grassroots organization targeted at sustainability.
Staten Island Youth Sustainability (SIYS) was created to help young people get engaged with environmental issues and make an impact on Staten Island.
Founder and director Adair Martinez, 21, is an undergraduate student at Mercy College. His decision to start SIYS was motivated by the rising threat of climate change.
“There have been various events that have affected us climatically,” Martinez said. “Our goal ultimately is to create safer neighborhoods by cleaning neighborhoods and spreading awareness about environmental justice. It takes not only an impact here, locally, but internationally.”
The group, which formed in July, hosted a clean-up at Miller Field in New Dorp on Sunday. It is the third clean-up they have hosted so far.
Director Kaysea Criscuolo, 21, is a graduate student at St. John’s University, Grymes Hill campus. She was “really excited” to join SIYS and get involved.
“It feels nice to be able to volunteer and clean up. It’s actually kind of fun. The people here are fun and we get to hang out while we’re cleaning up the trash together,” said Criscuolo. “Sustainability is important, and making a change doesn’t have to be boring.”
As a whole, the organizers believe that promoting and acting sustainably is essential to the “survival of humanity” and long-term health.
SIYS sources the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which highlight climate action, as one of their main motivators.
For Martinez, climate change and environmental issues became an essential part of his life following Hurricane Sandy.
“The reason for creating and starting and joining this group is because I was personally affected by Hurricane Sandy, here in the Midland New Dorp area,” Martinez told the Advance/SILive.com. “I did lose everything, and I even lost neighbors due to the disaster ending their lives.”
Martinez said that generational businesses and community members were severely affected by the hurricane, and “Staten Island hasn’t returned to the way that it was before.”
Scientists have stated that one reason that Sandy was so catastrophic was because of rising sea levels and temperatures, according to National Geographic.
“Climate experts predict that extreme weather events like Sandy will become more common as the planet warms, warning that leaders need to both prepare for a more uncertain world and work to reduce emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases,” National Geographic reported.
Martinez hopes that having an organization will help youth get involved in environmental issues and advocacy.
“Hopefully, through this initiative, we’re able to bring out the youth who, because of COVID-19 and this new era of digitalization, are mostly stuck indoors,” he explained. “Our aim is to get young people – and people of any age really – to get aware, involved in community initiatives like this one.”
“Sustainability, as a whole, is fundamental to the survival of humanity,” Martinez noted. “Not only short term, but long-term, because we will be able to have better health, better education, and more reliable and clean energy.”
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